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Published February 02, 2010, 06:31 PM

LRSC Professor Working To Improve Agricultural Work Sites

A Lake Region State College professor is working to make agricultural work sites safer. Paul Gunderson has worked at the local, state, and international level.

By: Renee Chmiel, WDAZ

A Lake Region State College professor is working to make agricultural work sites safer. Paul Gunderson has worked at the local, state, and international level. He says 40 percent of the world's population is involved in agriculture; that's roughly three and a half billion people. He says agriculture is arguably one of the most dangerous occupational work sites in the nation.

Gunderson is the director of the Dakota Center for Technology-Optimized Agriculture at Lake Region State College, which does research, testing, and prototype development.

Paul Gunderson/Center Director: "We contract with individual farms to gain access to fairly sizeable acreages, and then we test the technologies and analyze the outcomes."

Gunderson says the center also helps create jobs, and that the job market for students is good. Students from all majors have shown interest.

Erin Wood/Director of Marketing & Public Relations: "We also see a lot of students from the Information Technology area and Business area also looking for internships."

Gunderson's also working at the international level. He and a colleague were contacted by the International Labor Organization and asked to help write text to be used by ag producers around the world to help them preserve employees' health on the job.

Paul Gunderson: "We reviewed the text, all 266 pages of it, line by line. It took eleven days."

Gunderson went to Geneva in late 2009 and worked with 35 experts from around the world. He says he hopes the text, and his work, will improve both agricultural products and employee health.

Paul Gunderson: "Our hope is that across time these agricultural work sites will structure themselves so that workers are better protected than they are presently."

The center at Lake Region State College has been around for just over 4 years. It's a partnership between the college and local private-sector partners.

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